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March 16, 2010

Camping for Just About Everybody: An Intro to KOA Campgrounds, California

Filed under: Campground Destinations — Tags: , , — Simos @ 4:01 am
The Big Trees

Big trees of Sequoia National Park
Photo by: Mo Moore (Stock Exchange)

Welcome back to AllCampgrounds, fellow campers!

From today on, we’ll be beginning a whirlwind tour of major camp grounds, parks, and natural reserves throughout the United States.

There are thousands of camp grounds coast to coast to choose from, whether you’re camping RV resorts or looking for something a little more wild and rustic!

We’re not going in any particular order – variety IS the spice of life, after all – so I think we’ll pick up with KOA campgrounds, California. Expect to see famous, infamous, and just-about-unknown sights as we hit the trail

What is a KOA Camp Ground, Anyway?

KOA is Kampgrounds of America, a franchise of campgrounds that has properties in most U.S. states and throughout eight Canadian provinces. Like any other franchise, KOA camp grounds all adhere to certain standards; for example, all KOA grounds are “pet friendly” for those who have dogs or cats, and service animals are always welcome. KOA also makes much of its 600-point annual inspection process, which is used to ensure all grounds are in top shape. And this kind of rigorous standard is really something, since there are almost 500 KOA “kampgrounds” in operation, all owned and operated by entrepreneurs who “have what it takes.”

KOA Versus the World

If you want to learn about camping quick, KOA has a good reputation as a place to start, especially if you plan to bring along the whole family. Kids and Fido (or Fluffy!) generally get along pretty well at one of these sites. Next on the list for newcomers and families alike is national and state parks; and of course, there’s always your local, privately-owned camp ground.

Using local grounds can be a good way to start a family tradition, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into; these can vary pretty widely in quality. For that, don’t underestimate the value of a local camper who has explored the area’s sites frequently; such sources of sage advice are usually easier to find in your own backyard than Timbuktu, no matter how great the views are there.

KOA Campgrounds California: Where to Start?

From the Sierra Madres to the Pacific coast, California has natural sites to suit every adventurer’s palette. And if you’re going to use a KOA ground, you’ll have plenty of options: there are well over 30 camps distributed around the state, and many of them accommodate tents, RVs, and those who want to stay in a cabin. Heck, there are even luxury features like swimming pools and wireless internet (!!) at a few, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The big winner for this year is KOA San Diego Metro, selected as one of the top KOA camp grounds nationwide in a survey of over 250,000 visitors. The site is very family-oriented, with hayrides, pancake breakfasts, and events all year around. Way up north, Crescent City KOA serves as the gateway to the state’s legendary redwood forests, and accommodates just about everyone, from RV campers to those who’d rather tent right in the woods. Last but not least, there’s Yosemite West KOA, offering direct shuttle service to Yosemite National Park’s most famous hiking trails. For more info on KOA, check out their site, where you can also find the KOA campground directory.

Now, is KOA right for everyone? If the thought of having wireless internet in your tent makes you wonder what the point of camping was in the first place, you might not adapt well to the experience. But as a starter, especially for today’s fast-paced, plugged-in generation, it’s a little less likely to be a shock than your average summer camp. And remember, you can rough it just as much or as little as you want at any good ground.

That’s all for KOA, but not for California. As we truck on, we’ll be looking at more sites and tackling tips and tricks for keeping your camping adventures fun. Don’t forget to write in and share your own favorite camping experiences, whether you’ve visited one of the “featured” camp grounds or have a suggestion of your own. We’re listening.

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